Karen Political Party Voice Concerns over Proportional Representation Voting System

The Karen political party, the Phalon-Sawaw Democratic Party (PSDP), has stated its opposition to the proportional representation (PR) voting system, which was endorsed by Burma’s parliament on June 11 this year.

The PSDP claimed that the new voting process would needlessly complicate the political system for the upcoming 2015 national elections.

The PSDP’s chairperson Mahn Aung Pyi Soe spoke to Karen News of his concerns about the PR system.

“There were mistakes before in 2010 [elections]. There is a possibility that it can become complicated if the proportional representation voting system is applied on the short term. For our party, we will observe the situation and express our opinions to civilians if we have to.”

Karen State residents spoke to Karen News of their concerns that the Proportional Representation system would weaken opposition voices in the 2015 elections.

Saw Sein Htwe, a resident from Karen State told Karen News that, “Civilians have no knowledge about the Proportional Representation voting system. I think it won’t be possible if we use it now. The local residents could be disappointed with the political outcome.”

Politicians not aligned with the government warned that the ethnic and opposition parties could be negatively affected by the PR system.

Nan Khin Htwe Myint, member of the National League for Democracy (NLD) Central Executive Committee confirmed to Karen News that they will oppose the proposed changes.

“The PR system was approved in the parliament meeting because they have more Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) support – they can do what they want. The PR system won’t affect the NLD party seriously, but it will affect the ethnic parties. We are very concerned for ethnic parties,” Nan Khin Htwe Myint said.

Burma’s electoral system that was used in the last national elections held in 2010 was based on the First Past the Post (FPTP) system, in which the candidate who attained the highest total numbers of votes in an election was declared the winner. The PR system, now being adopted, ensures that a party will receive the number of seats in parliament based simply on the number of individual votes received – often leading to a coalition government and a lack of a decisive voting bloc in parliament.

The PSDP’s statement follows a meeting of the national parliament on June 11th to approve the proportional representation system. At the meeting 117 representatives supported the change to the proportional representation system while 85 representatives opposed it.

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